Clallam Transit plans to make it easier for people to take the bus, even if they live in Forks and Neah Bay.
The public transportation district is expanding options for taking the popular No. 20 bus to Port Angeles’ eastern boundary, Olympic Medical Center and Peninsula College and for traveling to Seattle via the Strait Shot route from Bainbridge Island.
Clallam Transit will add a third daily trip Aug. 15 from the Gateway Transit Center to the Bainbridge state ferry terminal, leaving at 12:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and a new morning trip at 8:05 a.m. Sunday, General Manager Kevin Gallacci said last week.
The Monday-Saturday runs will depart Bainbridge at 3:30 p.m. and the Sunday trip at 11 a.m.
A week before fall starts, Clallam Transit will widen the transit window for residents of an east side Port Angeles neighborhood who want to make evening trips to downtown Port Angeles.
On Sept. 13, the agency will add 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. departures from the Gateway Center to the No. 20 Peninsula College-Olympic Medical Center route, which serves East Melody Lane off Golf Course Road 2.5 miles from downtown.
Expanded service to the neighborhood, which includes Highland Court Memory Care nursing home, was prompted by comments from residents served by the route, Gallacci said.
Under the present schedule, the last bus leaves the Gateway Center at 6:30 p.m.
“This way, they can go to dinner and shop longer,” Gallacci said.
“One problem in having that service stop earlier than the rest of the system is people have to hurry to get back home.”
In addition, a Clallam Transit analysis showed more than 60 percent of riders have cars, making the bus optional.
“But if they use us to get to work but can’t get home, they have to take their cars, so hopefully, maybe that will help some folks use the transit that may not have been.”
The added service on the city’s eastern border will not require additional funding, unlike the new mid-day and morning runs for the Strait Shot.
The additional Bainbridge Island service is being funded by a four-year, $486,000 state Department of Transportation Regional Mobility Grant matched by an additional $121,000 from Clallam Transit.
The $607,000 will cover wages, benefits, fuel, “all the costs associated with operating that service,” Gallacci said.
The Strait Shot leaves the Gateway Center at 7:25 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, 7:25 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Saturday, and 6:20 p.m. Sunday and holidays.
“We’ve heard from our customers that folks in the West End have a difficult time connecting with the Strait Shot, especially for some people in Neah Bay,” Gallacci said.
“This should open up opportunities for Forks and other West End residents to be able to connect with [the Strait Shot] the same day.
“It doesn’t mean they will be able to get back the same day, but it provides more options,” he said.
“Definitely a lot of people depend on us, and we want to make as many connections as we can to make the system whole, so people can get to work and back home, and to and from where they need to go.”
Clallam Transit is completing a comprehensive operational analysis that may lead to more improvements to its 15-fixed-route system in 2022, Gallacci said.
Service cuts that were imposed in 2007-2008 due to the Great Recession have been restored, including to Neah Bay, where the four-run schedule from Forks was sliced in half before the two trips were returned to that schedule in 2017.
Gallacci said there may be changes made to the shuttle that serves Forks residents from the current low-usage scheduled service to on-demand trips similar to the dollar-ride service in Sequim.
“There’s not enough ridership, and we’d like to improve that out there,” he said.
“It’s one of our biggest priorities right now.”
While the expanded Strait Shot service is grant funded for four years, it does not have an expiration date.
It’s here to stay, Gallacci said.
“After four years, we expect to continue to maintain that service on our own,” he said.
“This is just getting us a jump start on it for a period as it builds up popularity for riders.”